Volume 91, Issue 59

Wednesday, January 14, 1998



More make-downs

Attention grabbers like '10 Ways to Make Yourself More Bedable', 'Take Our Sexiness and Body Fat Percentage Quiz' and 'Are you cute enough to get that new job?' are prevalent on the covers of today's most often purchased women's magazines. Publications such as Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Vogue are in the business of instructing women on how to get what they want. Realistically, however, the effect of such writing only re-enforces women's submissive role in a patriarchal society, causing low self-esteem and eating disorders to run rampant.

And even though the average intelligent woman knows it, she still continues to waste her money. The truth is, most women can't help themselves. We've been trained since our pre-teen years to care about what make-up best matches our skin colour and how to flirt with that cute guy in our math class. I'm sure most 20-something women have a huge stack of old Teen magazines or Seventeen hiding in their closets.

There was one fresh perspective, however, among all the how-to mags prevalent in the '80s. Remember Sassy? I mean, the original Sassy – which encouraged girls to be independent and self-sufficient – before it was distorted by some major corporation, finally disappearing altogether. Ever since Sassy died there has been a voice missing from the magazine world.

But never fear! Writers have finally realized the need for good reading material which does not deplete the self-worth of women. Welcome publications such as Mode, which (applause!) includes women of all shapes and sizes. Stories promote positive self-image in women, daring girls to be independent. A good example is Jane, the new magazine from the original editors of Sassy, which features "make-unders" – rescuing women from fashion overkill – and provides recipes for "soothing teas" rather than a "Lose 10 pounds in three hours" diet.

And these magazines don't contain long, boring feminist diatribes. The focus is still fashion, but individuality is stressed – rather than one's attractiveness to men. The logical move would be for women to start supporting these new magazines which actually make them feel good about themselves – rather than those that cause anxiety because women don't fit the Barbie-like standards they set out.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998